Key to Election: Independents
Something very interesting happened in Moore County politics this past month. As of Oct. 2, 2012, independents began to outnumber Democrats in election registration.
Republican registration accounted for 38.8 percent of Moore County voters. Unaffiliated independents accounted for 28.9 percent, and Democrats accounted for 28.8 percent of our 63,034 registrants.
The fact that independents now outnumber Democrats is not surprising.
In our county, new unaffiliated registrations have been outnumbering new Democrats for a long time. But for a voter like me who grew up in Moore County when Republicans were a lonely minority, the fact that Democrats are becoming a "third party" is as surprising as it would be foolish to "spike the ball" and brag about the development.
When I first became Republican Party chairman, many in our party told me that the trend toward independent voters was the result of our lack of commitment to conservative politics. Too many people were upset that when we were last in control of the federal government, we failed to significantly cut spending as we continued to cut taxes. We needed to more solidly identify with the pro-life movement and the opposition to the LGBT agenda. This seemed very enticing to me, as my personal politics are closely aligned with these positions.
Yet as I spoke to many disaffected Republicans and new independents, I found a group who, in days long ago, would be supporters of Nelson Rockefeller and Everett Dirksen, moderate Republicans who were as dedicated to civil rights as they were to balanced budgets. I realized that we needed these moderate Republicans just as we needed moderate independents to form a governing coalition.
As I grew into this job, I found that the success of the Republican Party depended on creating a broad coalition of center-right moderates and conservatives.
That is because, on our best day, we had only 38.8 percent of the votes we needed to win office. Our success continued to depend upon those voters who called themselves "independent."
Now, I do believe that most independents are basically conservative. Many, like me, are proud members of Moore Tea Citizens. But, their decision to designate themselves as unaffiliated shows that even their conservative vote is a provisional ballot demanding that our candidates show both sincerity and integrity.
And those independents who are moderate are just as skeptical. Many are concerned as much about growing government power under the Patriot Act as they are about balanced budgets.
One of the mistakes political parties make is that we tend to base our legislation upon an ideology, Republicans being conservative and Democrats being liberal.
We do not take into account that many of our necessary constituents are not as liberal as is the Democratic Party, nor are they as conservative as most Republicans.
Laws must be based upon a broad consensus of our population, not based upon a party ideology. And, the less the legislation, the greater the freedom we are able to preserve for all our citizens.
Mitt Romney was not my first choice for Republican presidential nominee. I am much more conservative than is he. But as I see the registration statistics in Moore County as well as the nation as a whole, I understand that the reason for Romney's success is his ability to speak to independents as well as Republicans with a message of conservative government in the tradition of "everything in moderation."
Last month, 52 more Democrats registered to vote, while 134 new voters called themselves "unaffiliated." In the meantime, 163 new registrants elected to join the Republican Party. The slide of Democrats probably indicates the growing voter frustration with liberalism. But to revel in the voter rejection of left-wing politics would certainly be a mistake for conservatives like me.
Perhaps some voters, unlike myself, are pro-choice but believe that our economy will prosper only when taxes are low. Then again, some voters believe that failure to invest into alternative fuel research is a mistake, but expansion of government-sponsored welfare is also counterproductive to economic prosperity.
Such independents must be courted with the same zeal as we cherish our tea party supporters. Republicans must welcome to our ranks all members of a center right coalition dedicated to take back government from an arcane left-wing Democratic third party.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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